A day in the life of a young Welsh miner and his struggling wife, exploring the struggles and realities of work and family life in the early 20th century; Cutting across the mine and the home to reveal the dichotomous yet eerily similar difficulties they both face in their respective environments, the film seeks to explore the claustrophobic and compelling reality of working-class life, while holding up a mirror of modern labor practices in in which profit is prioritized over well-being.
Dai, a young Welsh coal miner, is forced to leave his young family in South Wales to find work in a slate mine at Blaenau Ffestiniog while the coal mine he works at is closed. Each day, he goes down into the mine with his candles and canary, useless in a slate mine apart from the comfort, familiarity, and connection to home and family he gives Dai, as he faces alienation and ridicule of his companions. miners
At home, we see Dai’s wife struggling to prepare a meager meal from empty cupboards and an empty pantry.
After dividing up a large part of the mine, the group leaves for tea, leaving the canary in the chamber. Dai rushes back, but unfortunately gets trapped, leaving him to accept the finale from him with nothing more than a nearly burned out candle and his canary.
In the final scenes of the film, we see that his wife has actually been preparing food for their son, now a teenager, and wearing the same dirty overalls as his father, as these scenes are revealed to take place years after the accident. Dai miner. .
As well as acting as an exploration of working-class life both then and now, one of the key concepts discussed in the film is the idea of contrast and how it can be displayed:
Initially this began as a way to heighten the horror of being trapped in a small space by contrasting it with the vast vistas in the film’s opening and exploring the idea of trapped or confined working-class life, but this grew to become almost in every aspect of the film;
- The contrast of the color palette inside and outside the mine.
- The contrast between the coal and slate mines Dai finds uncomfortable and alienating, as well as the contrast between Dai and his fellow miners, particularly in their attitudes, ages, and appearances to demonstrate their clear out-of-placeness.
- The contrast between Dai’s wife at the beginning and end of the film shows his growth as a character.
- The physical contrast between Dai and his son is used to emphasize the discovery that the two days are not simultaneous.
- Even the use of contrasting lights in chiaroscuro, where our form matches our content.
Having contrast as a key theme in the film also means that any similarities are heightened and meaningful, particularly the similarity in the claustrophobic space and color palettes of the mine and the home, which suggests that while physically distinctly different, the Dai’s wife exists in a mental state. and emotionally similar state to Dai, and while Dai’s duty and responsibility to go to the mines is his burden, home life and domestic maintenance of the family is his wife’s.
Dai is a young miner in his early 20s. He is neat, somewhat innocent and wet behind the ears, but well aware of his responsibilities and his duty to support his fledgling family. He seems lost and uncomfortable in his new surroundings and feels more comfortable when he is alone with his canary. Dai is a tall, well built and physically powerful man.
Dai’s wife is a young woman in her 20s. In her earlier scene, she is similar to Dai in that she is innocent and unsure of what lies ahead, but as her story unfolds, she becomes more jaded and fatigued, but also stronger, battle-hardened, and more in control. as it becomes the main provider for the household.
Dai’s son is also a young miner, but he is in his mid to late teens. In a small part of a scene, we see him coming home from a pit shift, and his presence signifies the revelation that Dai’s wife has been a widow for some time. Although he is still a child, he is now the man of the house. He has very similar characteristics to his father, only younger and with a hard life ahead of him.
The group of miners is older than Dai, they are all between 30 and 40 years old, and they work full time in the slate mine that Dai has come to work on. They are much tougher than Dai, worn down by a lifetime in the mines. , with rough skin and calloused hands. They act as a foil to Dai mentally, as much more headstrong, cynical and jaded people who see him as an outsider but still keep him in camaraderie as a fellow miner.
We want to eliminate red light entering the camera to create high-contrast chiaroscuro images while bringing out dirt, sand, and oil in skin tones.
To do this, we can use blue or green filters, but there is also a lot of peripheral light that the filters remove, which means they will stop us. As we shoot our low light scenes in the studio, we will be able to use a combination of this and high powered lighting fixtures to create a highly stylized and distinctive chiaroscuro image.
Blue filters block red, yellow, and orange; blue subjects, such as the sky, will lighten, while red objects will turn almost black, highlighting the blood vessels in the skin and providing a 1920s-style aesthetic of bleached and faded highlights.
One of the key influences on the stylistic development of film has been the study of black and white photography, both portraiture and landscape, to explore the applications and effects of lighting.
In developing Dai, we drew stylistic influence from early 20th century black-and-white filmmakers and cinematographers, especially those associated with the German Expressionist movement such as Charles Rosher and Karl Struss, as well as modern filmmakers such as Jarin Blaschke and Darius Khondji. .
Most of the mining scenes in the film will be shot at UWE studios, based on its Bower Ashton campus, and will require extensive set design. However, we do have some outside shots that we plan to film in Dinorwic Quarry and its surrounding landscapes to capture the authentic landscape of the North Wales slate industry of years gone by. We can also use this visit to capture period-accurate reference images for the costumes and set design of the mine.
For the scenes of Dai and his wife’s house, we plan to dress up the kitchen of an old town hall (or the front room, depending on your setting) to create an accurate representation and avoid two set builds. This will also require meticulous set design and costumes to generate the desired realism.
MEET THE CREW
Writer and director: Charles Harter
Producer: Harrison Foot
1st Assistant Director: Tim Burgess
Cinematographer: Finlay Walker
Camera Assistant: Kayla Topp
Sound engineer and designer: Alexander Zmuda
Production Design: Claire Andree
Imagen editor: Keenan Hurrell
We thank you for reading up to this point and we appreciate everyone who has contributed to making this film. With every action and donation, no matter the size, you’ll be supporting this incredible creative process that will bring us one step closer to making this movie a reality!
** All landscape photos were taken by our director of photography, Finlay Walker**